“I am still going to be working for the Christmas Box every year,” Laws said Wednesday, “but I am going to let someone younger be in charge.”
“Actually, it is going to take two people to do all that Martha has been doing,” said Christy Riddle of Frontier Health. Riddle said she and Mary Tipton, co-owner of the Chick-fil-A franchise in Elizabethton, will take over the role Laws pioneered for the Carter County part of the Johnson City Press Christmas Box.
While Laws, Riddle and Tipton served as leaders, there were lots of volunteers to once again make both the Johnson City Press Christmas Box and the Salvation Army Angel Tree program a success in Carter County.
Capt. Michael Cox, co-commander of the Salvation Army of Johnson City, said 1,234 people were served this year. That includes 459 families and 674 angels.
Tom Krueger, a member of the Press Christmas Box board of directors and the person who has been responsible for shopping for the groceries that go in the boxes for the past 20 years said this year there 338 Christmas boxes. For households of only one or two people, he said 178 gift cards, valued at $35 each, were given.
Funds for the purchases came from the charitable donations to the Christmas Box made by readers of the Johnson City Press.
These donations made possible a large box of groceries that contained:
• A ham.
• Bag of potatoes
• Bag of onions.
• Two boxes of au gratin potatoes.
• Four cans of chicken noodle soup.
• Three cans of corn.
• Four boxes of macaroni.
• Three cans of green beans.
• Six boxes of macaroni and cheese.
• Two boxes of pancake mix.
• Three cans of peas.
• Two cans of pinto beans.
• Two boxes of dry rice.
• Two packs of spaghetti noodles.
• Four cans of tomato soup.
• Two boxes of stuffing mix.
• One box of corn flakes.
• One box of Rice Krispies.
Krueger said families of six or more will get two boxes, less the extra ham, potatoes and onions.
He said Walmart of Elizabethton has been extremely helpful throughout the years in the purchase of the groceries.
Art Powers, Press Christmas Box chairman of the board, said that in addition to these items which are paid for by donations, the Christmas Box also is helped by Stanley Dunbar of Moody Dunbar Inc. Powers said each year Dunbar donates 175 cases of 40-ounce cans of yams.
In addition to all of those groceries for Carter Countians, Krieger said another 498 hams were donated to Hale Ministries to supplement its food packages going to Johnson County and the Care and Share food packages for Unicoi County.
There were many volunteers at the National Guard Armory to help locate each family’s Christmas Boxes and Angel Tree toys and other volunteers were helping the families take everything to their cars.
Some of the volunteers on Wednesday were members of the Elizabethton High School Student Government Association and the EHS Key Club. Other volunteers came from the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Elizabethton, the Carter County Car Club and many others.
Two of the most faithful volunteers have been Becky Street and her son, Jacob. Jacob has just completed his first semester at Northeast State Community College. He and his mom have volunteered for the Christmas Box distribution since he was in the sixth grade.
“I was a single mom, so I didn’t have money to give, so we decided to donate our time,” Becky said.
One of the newer volunteers is Elizabethton High School student Ethan Fields, who was taking the overflowing shopping carts to the cars of clients.
“It has been good,” Fields said. “I like serving people.”
The Christmas Box has one more big day. Powers said the distribution at the Appalachian Fairgrounds in Gray will take place on Thursday, starting at 9 a.m. and going until everyone has been served.
In addition to thanking all the volunteers working in Carter and Washington counties, Powers wanted to thank the members of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for directing traffic during the big event.
“It is sometimes so cold and they do a great job,” Powers said.